Damn. Damn. Damn.
Now that I’ve gotten all my damnation out of the way (for now anyway)… I can focus on this fear. In my quest to find that thing, or those things, about which I’m passionate, I took another little quiz and my result was this:
Fear of FailureYou are terrified of stepping outside your comfort zone. And you’re not alone—I find that this is the most common fear. My clients who struggle with it are often perfectionists who tend to take failure personally. When they don’t succeed, they say, “I’m a failure,” rather than “I failed.” So it’s understandable that new ventures can seem frightening. The most important thing you can do for yourself is work on building self-efficacy—the belief that you can actually accomplish what you want to do. Start by setting and achieving small goals. For example, if you want to be a massage therapist, sign up for an adult education course in shiatsu. If you want to be a florist, reach out to one; invite her for coffee and ask her how she got started. As you succeed at these smaller challenges, bigger goals will seem less daunting, and eventually you will develop the confidence to take the leap you’ve been dreaming about.
Not pretty. Not uncommon either, but not pretty. So, have my past experiences of succeeding at those things I’ve tried been only because I found the thought of doing them comfortable? Did I only do them because I knew, even on a subconscious level that I would meet success?
Honestly, I thought I’d crap my pants when I went zip-lining and the last time I went white water rafting I had a panic attack, mottled-complexion, snotty-nosed “cry face” and all. I was bawling and as I gasped for breath between sobs I kept saying to myself, “Why are you crying? You think this is fun?! This is supposed to be fun!” as a worried Mr. Muse silently helped carry the fun-yaks to the water. At least I didn’t puke. Or drown. Or crap my pants.
My fear of failure has even affected my enjoying riding horses. Folks, I possess certification in Equine Management (still chaps my hide that they dropped the “degree” for that program the year before I started… should have been an Associate Degree), but I haven’t ridden horse since October of 2009 when my mare, Sichel, whom I had brought home only a couple weeks before, took off as I was getting on her and I landed on the road. While I was wearing a helmet (thank goodness), my brains were scrambled pretty good and I spent two weeks on heavy-duty pain killers and muscle relaxers. Now, if I seriously consider riding a horse, even if it’s mellow Mozan (also purchased at the same time), I start to panic, envisioning myself sprawled on the roadway and another trip via ambulance to the emergency room.
My fear of failure doesn’t apply just to activities; while I have embraced being the black sheep of many a situation, there is still a part of me that fears I will be shunned by new people because they don’t get to know Me. This fear is a double-edged sword, however, because I don’t want anyone to know me that well. Well, I kind of do, but it really freaks me out. Yeah, I get how weird that is; I’ve set up a self-fulfilling prophecy. I admit that it takes patience, time, dogged determination, asking the right questions and a definite lack of creepiness for people to reach the inner sanctum, the circle of trust.
Perhaps that’s why I think I feel dispassionate about my writing despite my enjoyment of doing it? Maybe I truly am passionate for writing. Maybe I fear that I’m a failure at it because I don’t see comments on my blog like I see on the blogs of other writers. The lack of comments is seen as a lack of validation and therefore equates to my being a poor writer. Which makes me realize people think this might be a way of fishing for comments on my part. Truth is
that it is that I’m rambling… and that’s just what came out of my head. (Seriously, just kidding on that striked-out bit… I really am not fishing for comments.)
Hmm; to repeat a quote oft-attributed to Sigmund Freud, “Zis is very interesting.” By the way, Freud also developed “talk therapy” (#4 on the link). So, my readers, thanks for listening and letting me talk this out – the check is in the mail (once I’ve figured out how to split it up).
At least I’m showing some passion with my efforts at figuring this out.
This blog entry hits pretty close to home. There’s an upside and a downside to everything and its usually pretty hard to decide which side I want to be on, so I (almost) always take the safe route. Been holding me back on a couple of things for way longer than I care to remember. I kind of marvel at people who can accept defeat and not be crushed by it- I have no idea how to do that if I care about what I’m doing. Good topic missy- I never would have guessed that you had second thoughts about trying new stuff.
Honestly, for new experiences (like zip-lining in spite of the fear of crapping my pants) I literally have two Ativan (aka Valium) in my pocket, ready “just in case” and tell myself over and over “This will be fun. You will like it. You will have a good time.” I DID have a great time zip-lining and for white water rafting, once I get on the water, and in the case of the last time, in my fun-yak, and focused on what I had to do, where to paddle, what the water was doing – again, I had a great time. Some people might even venture to say I’m an “adrenaline junkie” but many things take me so long to talk myself INTO doing and I’m literally walking into those situations ready to bolt if given any reason my brain feels is valid for me not doing them, so that I don’t feel addicted to adrenaline at all. Though, adrenaline does appear to work wonders on tamping down the fear once it kicks in.
I know, deep down, my fear of failure has held me back, but what has it held me back from that perhaps I ought to really be doing?
At least (with a little chemical courage) you’re trying these things and not talking yourself out of them. I’m probably a bit of an adrenaline junkie- I’d be all over an opportunity to try zip-lining, skydiving, white water rafting etc. My fears are more in the regular life area- public speaking, introducing myself to new people, singing and dancing in public… I suppose its less about fear of failure than fear of embarrassing myself or looking stupid, although failing makes me feel stupid.
What do you think you ought to be (or would like to be) doing that you’re afraid to try?
You know, I’ve haven’t actually taken my Ativan to white-water raft or zip-line, etc., I have only had it in my pocket. Two little pills of “insurance” that if I start to panic I can take them and my anxiety will melt away.
I haven’t taken Ativan for probably three years (that’s the date on my most recent bottle).
As far as what I ought to be or would like to be doing that I’m afraid to try? I’m not sure. That’s where I’m stuck. That’s the big picture response. Things I KNOW I would like to be doing and am now too afraid to do: ride horse again. My horses are at my parents house, and I am frustrated with myself that I panic when I think about riding because riding is something I did never every day at a kid and teenager. I’d get home, run to the barn, saddle up my steed and go. Today, putting serious thought into riding causes the anxiety to well up and panic to set in; I hate that.
Most of the time, when I hear that someone has a fear of failure, they also have a fear of success — or, more concisely, they have a fear of things changing.
But this? Yeah, this is a fear of failure.
I went zip-lining about 5 years ago, specifically to help myself get over a fear of falling . . . and once I allowed myself to relax, it was incredible.
I think you’re on to something with the fear of success/fear of things changing. I do tend to be fairly stuck in my ways, as Marge Simpson has said, “I’ve made myself a happy, little rut here.” I’m a huge supporter of other peoples endeavors but loathe to try my own ideas. Hmm… so many things to think about. Maybe I fear all of the attention success could bring and I’m afraid of losing my hiding spot, the safety of my quiet place, that I won’t have anywhere that I can be alone and recharge.
I know what you mean about the panic and anxiety, that DOES stink.
In the areas you’ve used as examples though, I don’t think what you’re feeling is a question of success or failure. You either do or you don’t. You’ve been injured while riding and its hard to get back on- that’s not a failure on your part. It’s just being cautious because your confidence is shaken. Nobody wants to be broken again.
I think of failure or success in terms of, for instance, you have a very successful blog going and you get to remain fairly anonymous because we have to find you to read it. Maybe people are telling you to go more mainstream and write for a paper or magazine, but you’re afraid you won’t be as interesting to the casual reader. I would consider that more of a fear of failure or success than being afraid of getting beaten up by your horse again,
You bring up some interesting points, and I believe you’re correct. It’s one thing to find success under the shelter of semi-anonymity, quite another to find it in the mainstream.
Oh yeah! I almost forgot!! Zip-lining is exhilarating!
I think you are correct about blogging being an effective form of therapoy.
I agree. It’s like crowdfunding excepting is “crowd therapy”. Group Therapy! HOORAY!